Royal Academy 251st Summer Exhibition 2019 was curated by Jock McFayden RA (b.1950).  The animal-themed ‘menagerie’ starts in the Central Hall, where there are inventive and inspiring sculptures and works of art in all sorts of mediums.  Works by RA artists as well as other established contemporary artist such as Antony Gormley RA, Bill Jacklin RA, to Honorary Academicians such as James Turrell and Banksy to name but a few, that are mixed in with general public’s successful submissions at this auspicious annual event.

When visiting the exhibition, it is overwhelming, fun and busy!  I find, for me, it is best to react to a piece that catches my eye, something that draws me in.  I was drawn to some pieces that were obviously brilliant, such as the huge and compelling work by Emma Stibbon, RA – Caldera Overlook, 2019, four part woodcut on Japanese paper.  The work, through sheer scale, felt like you could almost walk into it!  With the trees in silhouette the light seems to glow behind the trees.  I found it inviting and magical; is it dawn or dusk?  This monumental woodcut is striking but equally, and in contrast, I found myself drawn to a tiny work of art by Midge Maylor, Cabinet, in mixed media.

Emma Stibbon, RA – Caldera Overlook, 2019, four part woodcut on Japanese paper

Midge Maylor, Cabinet, in mixed media, 2019

The exhibition has many works of art which appear at first to be made in one medium but on closer inspection are not what they seem.  For example, David Hepher, Hey Wayne on the Meath Estate, acrylic, oil, spray paint and concrete on canvas.  This piece looked like a huge photograph from wall to ceiling with bits coloured in here and there.  In fact, it was acrylic painted on a thick concrete slab.  I loved the way the material reflected the grittiness of the scene; one I can relate to having been raised on an estate.

David Hepher, Hey Wayne on the Meath Estate, acrylic, oil, spray paint and concrete on canvas, 2019

After this exhibition I had some thoughts, which I jotted down and these questions I think will be helpful when visiting further exhibitions and considering how works of art are created.  This is particularly true of the many sculptural pieces dotted around the exhibition that used materials to really highlight the transitional or delicate sculptures for example, Nicola Hicks, Miniature Bear from a Dump Circus, plaster.  This piece is engaging in scale, you can get up close and see the straw covered plaster and the tyre which the ‘bear’ is balancing on, this had an emotive response to the obvious and very real concerns of global warming and its impact on life on earth.


Nicola Hicks, Miniature Bear from a Dump Circus, plaster, 2019

I, like most people, could not view all the work and therefore missed lots but at the end of the day I came away feeling stimulated by the exhibition and inspired by so many of the pieces.  As a result I had some thoughts from the visit…

With more information does your view change about the piece?

Is it fun to guess the medium before finding out?

Is it interesting to guess whether a RA established artist or not?

The exhibition got me thinking about trying out different mediums.

With regard to a work of art/sculpture does the title matter?

Artists that I marked in my List of Works 2019  RA Summer Exhibition booklet and want to find out more about are:-

Timothy Hyman

Robert Ducas

Virginia pope – wood to weave oil on tweed

Fredrick Cuming RA – Will O’ Wisp, Romney Marsh, oil

Cherry Pickles – Centre Stage, Self-portrait as Harvey Weinstein, acrylic

Ken Howard RA – Interior, St Clements Studio, oil

David Edmond – Sheppy, oil on board

Paul Regan – Dancers Lane VII, acrylic on paper

Karen Martin – Lake Hokerum, collage with mixed media

Rosemary (hoyle) North – Fires on the Moors, feltwork (love!)

David Hepher – Hey Wayne on the Meath Estate, acrylic (great!

Ishbel Myserscough – Lily and Quaye, oil

Michael Porter – Vanitas Series 25-03-17, oil and acrylic (love!)

Ben Johnson – The Space Between Revisited, acrylic

Francesca Colussi – A Lesson in Confidence, hand embroidery on vintage card

Ann Christopher RA – Changin Spaces – 1, carbonundum print hand-finished with graphite and pen

Richard Wilson RA – Slickwork 4 acrchival ink

Hew Locke – Souvenir 3 (Albert Edward Prince of Wales), antique Parian ware and mixed media

George Merton – Precious Metal, linocut and gold etching ink

Marian Leven – Memory of North (Diptych), watercolour

Bill Jacklin RA – Square at night with snow, oil, Dance of the Clouds and Breezes VII, monotype and Fog and Rain on the Bridge 1, monotype

Stuart Mackenzie – Species: Coelacanth (Diptych), monotype

Elizabeth Magill – Wildflowerheads 2, oil on screen

Stuart Mackenzie – Capercaillie, monotype

Mick Moon RA – Anticapting, acrylic and mixed media on calico mounted on board

Norman Ackroyd RA – Burnham Beeches, etching and also Mingulay from Pabbay

Barbara Rae RA – Sea Shard, etching

Stephen Lawler – And England’s Dreaming and Active Shooter, etchings

Tim Shaw RA – Raven 1 and Raven 2, photopolymer etching

Jim Dine Hon RA – Blue Artists at the Bahnhof, six colour woodcut and The Artichokes, lithograph on hand-coloured paper

Andrrzej Jackowski, At the Lining, mixed media

Anna Jung Seo – Cool Boys, oil on paper on board

Philip Sutton – Hello Don Quixote, oil and Shakespeare’s Flowers, oil

Ian Chamberlain – Transmission V, etching

Peter Frith RA – Flag, aquatint

Alice Mara – Town House, digital print on ceramic

Barbara Walker – Vanishing Point 2 (Van Herp), graphite on embossed paper (how?)

Miriam Elia – We Go To the Gallery – There is nothing in the room because God is Dead, gouache, watercolour and digital illustration

Antony Eyton RA – Staircase to Garden, oil

Hughie O’Donoghue RA – The Full Heart of the Sun, oil on tarpaulin

Christopher Oldfield – Graduation, oil

Radek Husak – Mirrored XXIV, pigment transfer, gouache and carbon pencil on sandblasted aluminium

Rose Wylie RA – Snowhite (2) One Day her Prince will come, oil

Olwyn Bowey RA – Cardoons, oil

Luci Eyers – Mythical Creature (Helical Tusk), watercolour..thought this didn’t even look like watercolour

James Butler RA – Sleeping Girl, pastel

Melissa Scott-Miller, Islington Back Gardens with self, oil

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